Apr 112014

Natalie Merchant interrupts her set at World Cafe Live to take her first selfie.

Natalie Merchant interrupts her set at World Cafe Live to take her first selfie.

At a recent performance at Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live, former Michael Stipe separate tour bus buddy Natalie Merchant stopped performing to personally confiscate phones from members of her audience.

Merchant did lose patience with cellphones, however, as she confiscated multiple phones (even getting help from Dye) between “Texas” and Ophelia’s “Kind & Generous,” an apt ending for Big Day Out. Asking why it could not still be 1998, when people did not feel the need to be on phones and take pictures all the time, she took a stance rarely taken by performers at a show. And the crowd seemed to be fine with it, as they were joyously partaking in the familiarity of an old tune.


That’s right, Natalie Merchant actually confiscated phones – and had venerated WXPN DJ David Dye help her. She doesn’t have better things to do onstage, like sing and perform? I’m cool with artists having their say about people’s inability to “be in the moment,” but leave it at that. It’s 2014. Revive the Latin Casino or Palumbo’s (two long-closed Philadelphia-area “supper clubs” from the pre-rock age) if it’s that hard to perform in the modern age. She annoyed me when she was relevant. She should be grateful that anyone cares to tweet a photo from the show, or whatever nonsense is important to people these days.

To what degree is it acceptable for artists to react negatively to fans snapping photos and video on their smartphones?

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  19 Responses to “Natalie Merchant Can Kiss My Ass”

  1. misterioso

    Akh, so torn! On the one hand, I truly loathe Natalie Merchant. On the other hand, I sympathize with her on this issue. Brain…becoming…over-strained at trying to decide….. [head explodes].

  2. Yeah, I’m totally cool with her feeling that way, but you can’t take people’s stuff from them, especially if you’re in the middle of performing, especially if they can enough about you to actually take time out of their lives to pay money to see you play live. The club has a Security staff to do that dirty work.

    Another issue I have with this behavior: there are lots of sound reasons to stand in front of people and tell them they are idiots, but it’s really not too cool to do. That’s why we have outlets for our moral and aesthetic superiority, like Rock Town Hall.

  3. I’m trying to think of something that she could do that wouldn’t annoy the shit out of me.

  4. “I’m retiring from public life forever, and clearing your brain of all memories of my ever having existed.” – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2

  5. ladymisskirroyale

    Talk about public image limited.

  6. ladymisskirroyale

    So I googled Most Annoying Natalie Merchant Moments and got this. It’s worth a ponder or two.

  7. ladymisskirroyale

    My favorite: “Courtney is Dionysian and Natalie is Apollonian”

  8. My favorite exchange is over “Trouble Me,” the only song I’ve ever been able to tolerate involving her beside some song she did with Michael Stipe and a horn section, which is only barely tolerable:

    Ah, Natalie Merchant. YECH.
    Her one brief shining moment is the “Trouble Me” video from Maniacs days. Everything else I KILL WITH GUNS.

    ― Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 17 September 2004 20:17 (9 years ago) Permalink

    Is that the one that looked like a maxipad commercial: soft-focus bike-riding through the afternoon sun, wearing a big hat with a ribbon, to aid an elderly woman?
    ― morris pavilion (samjeff), Friday, 17 September 2004 20:19 (9 years ago) Permalink

  9. Here’s one thing she could do that might not annoy you: Scrap her current musical approach and move to the speed metal genre,band name: Natalie Death Merchant.

  10. misterioso

    I know, I know–but: I refuse to accept the notion that one’s status as a paying customer grants carte blanche to be an annoying dickhead. Or, if it does, I acknowledge the right of the performer to point that out. I am not quite sure the offense complained of here rises to that level or not. But I lean towards thinking it does, and I have to restrain my impulse to say “if it annoys Natalie Merchant, then I’m ok with it.”

  11. cliff sovinsanity

    If somebody who has paid their way in and doesn’t want to be “in the moment” by enjoying the show without feeling the need to document the show with their phone than so be it. It’s not like these people were moshing in the absence of a pit and stepping on my toes.
    And secondly, fuck her. As misguided and crunchy as her fans might be she shouldn’t be so high and mighty to tell them how to act. I would have stormed the stage which is a compulsion I’ve had to restrain myself from in the past when a band or singer was pulling off some diva behavior.
    And thirdly fuck David Dye and his World Café bullshit with all his smug art house bongo playing noodling.

  12. Hank Fan

    She’s always been an annoying prima donna as far as I can tell.

  13. cherguevara

    I went to a Joni Mitchell concert and realized Merchant was sitting right behind me. I seriously considered turning around and telling her how much I dislike her music and for her to please consider never singing again. I really can’t stand the wussy earth-mama wannabe-soul, combined with a pretense of her lyrics being upper-tier literacy, all steeped in reeking smugness.

  14. cliff sovinsanity

    My I so bold to declare…

    Press Statement : For immediate release

    At 10:51 on April 12 2014, Rock Town Hall officially declares Natalie Merchant an “Enemy of the Hall”.

  15. cliff sovinsanity

    I was so filled with bile I screwed up that opening statement “May I be so bold…

  16. So it is written, so let it be done!

  17. ladymisskirroyale

    Misterioso, I am pleasantly amazed that you are the rational, Apollonian voice in this discussion.

  18. 2000 Man

    What do we do now? Ask her for her autograph or a picture if we see her, but wait until she gets her dinner first? Does anyone know where she lives so we can roll her house?

  19. Little, angry-inch, entitled, white male. Nobody cares what you think…

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